I think at the root of my depression is the fear that ultimately I’ve been going in the wrong direction with no way of undoing my supposed irreversible damage. I have a tendency to think back to times in my life when “the grass was greener” for instance, ten years ago I had just graduated from college and bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii.
I was living on a porch and working the day shift at a dive bar, my only goal being to get to Australia. By most standards I was living “the life”, but by my own, I felt like one big disappointment. My parents worked hard to help put me through college and yet there I was with my bachelor's degree sitting on a beach popping Bud Light bottles for alcoholic middle-aged men.
I was so hard on myself. I wish I could have seen that time in my life for what it was; exploration, adventure, trying something new. Instead, I was consumed by comparison, purpose, and the fear of failure. This can become a vicious cycle. I don’t want to wake up ten years from now and look back and wonder why couldn’t I be kinder to myself? So I asked the women that I admire and who inspire me, what would they tell their 20/30 something year old self-knowing what they know today? Here’s what they had to say...
“What I would tell my 20/30-year-old self (if I had a black mirror moment at 63) I wish I hadn’t been so hard on myself (damn that inner voice). I would remind myself that work is not the sum total of your life. I wish that I had been more conscious of my femininity, youth, and beauty. Instead of being so closely guarding it, questioning it.” -63 y.o.
“I’d tell myself that mom is right… to enjoy life more as it unfolds. Whatever comes your way, you’ll figure it out. So worry less, trust yourself and enjoy the ride.” -61 y.o.
“20 might be different than 30 (where I felt more settled) but I would say that life lessons are relearned throughout life. You aren’t meant to ‘arrive’, that confidence ebbs and flows and at the end of the day it is more about your courage and character, that joy, laughter and deep relationships are a gift to be cherished, that worthiness and self-love are already there and don’t be so hard on yourself. Enjoy your energy as it will change. Finally, be ready to laugh at your old hairstyles and boyfriends.” -62 y.o.
“I think the advice I would give myself would be to resist comparing myself to others, making assumptions and judgments, focus less on my inadequacies and more on my strengths, stay in the light, continue being courageous and having faith!” -56 y.o.
“Trust that your life will unfold in a meaningful way if you stay connected to your values and what is important to you. Living a life with personal meaning is the most important way to be in the world, but there are ups and downs and sometimes you feel adrift. If I could tell my 20/30 something self anything, then it would be that what you have, are and bring to this world is perfectly what it is. You don’t know everything at any age and that is okay. Be informed and inspired by others, but be yourself.” - 58 y.o.
“On the physical front (which isn’t to be ignored as it was such a defining part of who I was at that time) I would tell myself you will never look this good so enjoy the wonderful skin and vibrant hair as it all goes away as you get older! I was so hard on myself physically when in hindsight I should have been more forgiving and kind when it came to accessing my body/body image. I wish I had the confidence I have now back then as I would have made better choices but as they say, “youth is wasted on the young” and you need to go through all that stuff to gain the knowledge and insight. I would have made myself “look to the light” more vs. rolling around in the darkness. For some reason, the darkness made me “feel” more and I kept returning to that place. Smiling, doing random acts of kindness and surrounding yourself with people and things that bring you joy was the secret I wish I knew.” -57 y.o.